Rwanda earned over $543 million (about Rwf543 billion) in agricultural export revenues from January to December 2021 against over $390 million of the same period in 2020, representing an increase of 39 percent.
These export statistics are contained in the National Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB)’s December 2021 and Quarter Two Report 2021-2022, which was published early February this year.
The report comprises statistical data for agricultural exports and re-exports for December 2021. It also provides combined data for the calendar year of January-December 2021, fiscal year July-December 2021 and quarter two (October-December 2021) in comparison with the same period of 2020.
According to the report, both export and re-export increments were related to the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, where most of the economic activities resumed with more movement of people and goods in the region and abroad.
Transport of people to Europe and other destinations became regular which allowed trade with Europe and the rest of the world.
The report indicated that tea, coffee, flowers, fruits and vegetable unit prices were also showing positive trends, thus contributing to the realized good export performance compared to the same period of 2020.
From January-December 2021, over 35.2 million kilogrammes of (processed) tea were sold at $96.7 million, against 32.7 million kilogrammes sold for $90.2 million in the same period of 2020.
The increase in tea revenue of 7 per cent in 2021 in comparison to 2020 is attributed to the 8 per cent growth in tea export volumes, even though tea average price dropped by 0.36 percent from $2.76 per kilo to $2.75 per kilo.
From January to December 2021, Rwanda exported 17.4 million kilogrammes of coffee which raked in $78.3 million in revenues, compared to over 16.1 million kilogrammes that fetched $55.2 million in the same period of 2020.
The increase of 42 percent in coffee revenues from January-December 2021 in comparison with January-December 2020 is attributed to the good price of $4.48 per kilo registered in this period against $3.41 per kilo average in 2020 and high volume of coffee sold in 2021 (with an increase of 8.5 per cent).
January to December 2021, Rwanda exported more than 3.4 million kilogrammes of dairy products which generated over $5 million, compared to 4.2 million kilogrammes it exported in the same period of the previous year for over $3.6 million.
Such data imply that though Rwanda’s dairy exports dropped by 18.8 percent in terms of volumes, the revenues increased by 40.4 percent.
James Biseruka, the Managing Director of Inyange Industries, told The New Times that the good performance realized for 2021 was thanks to the relative opening up of the markets as the restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic eased compared to 2020.
Meanwhile, he indicated that the export market for Rwanda’s dairy products was expanding, citing markets Gabon and Central African Republic.
“There are new [market] opportunities that are opening up every year,” he said, indicating that the 2021 revenues would even go higher if there were no Covid-19.
“You realise that the Africa free trade movement [African Continental Free Trade Area] will bring major changes … With it, there is a spirit among African countries to buy products from within the continent rather than importing them from Europe,” he said, adding that some countries were contacting Inyange so that it supplies them with dairy products.
From January to December 2021, fruits exported from Rwanda amounted to 6.9 million kilogrammes and generated $9.9 million.
In the same period of the previous year, 5.4 million kilogrammes of fruits were exported from Rwanda for $6.9 million.
Considering such figures, Rwanda’s fruits export revenues went up by 44.6 percent, while, overall, volumes went down by 27.4 percent.
Donatille Nibagwire, the owner of Floris, a firm that exports horticultural products including bananas and avocados, told The New Times that in the 2020, horticulture export business was much disrupted, and businesspeople were not sure how to effectively deal with the situation.
“The fruit export performance in 2021 was better than that of the previous year,” she said, calling for increasing local production of quality fruits to further exports.
“Rwanda’s land is still ideal [for horticulture production], which makes us have quality produce,” she said, adding that when customers like a product, they order more [of it].
Flowers were also one of the best performers in the agricultural export sector, with over 1.3 kilogrammes of flowers exported in 2021 to generate $8.8 million, up from over 936,200 kilogrammes exported in 2020 for $5.5 million.
Considering these statistics, flower export volumes increased by 40.8 percent, while revenues rose by 60 percent in 2021.
Rwanda targets to generate $1 billion (Rwf1 trillion) in annual agricultural exports by 2024, which is more than double the current output by the sector. However, the path to achieve this is not as smooth, at least considering the prevailing circumstances.
Achieving that goal will require doubling down on exports of emerging crops such as cereals and horticulture, as well as meat, dairy and poultry products, while steadily growing traditional exports crops which are coffee, tea and pyrethrum, according to NAEB’s strategic plan 2019-2024, published in May 2019.
Original story on The New Times